New affordability scheme 'not a double mortgage', says housing minister

New affordability scheme 'not a double mortgage', says housing minister

Housing minister Darragh O'Brien has said that building homes is 'not like turning on and off a tap'.

Housing minister Darragh O'Brien has denied that his department's affordability scheme is a "win for developers" or a "double mortgage".

The housing budget will top €3.1bn next year, with an additional €500m earmarked for social and affordable housing. This includes €75m for a new national Affordable Purchase Shared Equity Scheme for first-time buyers.

This scheme will see first-time buyers or others with exceptional circumstances offered the chance to purchase homes with equity stakes taken by either the State or another institution. This equity will be repaid either in the future or on the sale of the home. 

The scheme could support 2,000 home purchases next year, the minister said. It is understood those would primarily be in new-build homes.

"It will be a real solution for a lot of people," said Mr O'Brien. "Home ownership is further and further away from the reach of many people.

It's not a double mortgage, depending on how it's constructed. We don't want people chasing unaffordable mortgages or double mortgages.

Details of the scheme will be laid out in legislation due to be put before the Oireachtas before Christmas, and the drafting of the bill is under way.

The minister also denied that there is nothing in the budget for renters.

"I do not accept the criticisms of others who simultaneously say that we have provided nothing for renters while dismissing the 76,500 tenancies assisted by the Housing Assistance Payment and Rental Accommodation Schemes."

Mr O'Brien said the Opposition is being "simplistic" in its projections of what can be delivered, saying that building homes is "not like turning on and off a tap".

"Sinn Féin says that it is going to build 20,000 homes next year," he said. "I'd like to ask them how, and I'd like to ask them where? Where's the land? Where's the planning permissions?"

He defended the continuation of the Help-to-Buy scheme, saying that it was not reviewed between its update in July and the budget.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said that the Government plan has failed to address the core problems within housing.

"The Fianna Fáil Minister for Housing, despite all his talk, has failed to secure the level of capital investment required to tackle the social and affordable housing crisis," he said.

“What was announced was hugely disappointing — devoid of urgency or ambition. Just 593 extra real social homes above what had been committed to by Eoghan Murphy and Rebuilding Ireland for 2021, where 9,097 real social housing units were promised."

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